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The last time I was attacked by leeches I thought I'd taken enough precautions such as pulling my socks over my trousers and avoiding walking through particularly wet areas or long grass but I still got them sucking on my ankles. What are the best methods to prevent them finding you interesting in the first place? And what will stop them finding your skin if they do take an interest?

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Where do you hike that is so infested? I found these stylish Anti Leech Socks in a google search: mosquitohammock.com/AntiLeechSocks.html –  Peter DeWeese Jan 25 '12 at 5:18

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. You can spray your socks/shoes with some type of deet spray or some tobacco water (soak some tobacco leaves in water).
  2. I've heard that salt affects leeches similarly is it does slugs, so you could carry some of that with you and rub some on your legs/feet every once and a while
  3. Leech socks are pretty effective as the seal off the at the knee and physically prevent the leeches from getting to you, but they may be uncomfortable.
  4. I've heard citrus juice works. I've never tried it, but to me it sounds made up.

The sprays will deter, the salt will make them leave, and the socks do nothing but prevent access.

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Any evidence for the tobacco water story? I've heard this one as well, but have never verified it. –  LBell Jan 25 '12 at 10:44
    
@LBell I've not found any scientific proof, but Google presents quite a few references to the trick. Apparently it's quite popular. –  justnS Jan 27 '12 at 16:03

Use salt as it helps remove leeches. ( I know it works I have personally seen it work and it honestly does dry them up.) You could also just leave them to fill up and fall off and then they are gone. The biggest worry though is probably infection for incorrect methods of removal. To prevent leeches I recommend leech socks or pants as they really work but are a bit uncomfortable. Also use stockings (wear stockings). And spray yourself with insect repellent and eucalyptus oil.

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I have lots of leeches in my (otherwise) lovely swimming hole which is in a creek just as it leaves a lake. I read up on possible leech deterrents and now I rub my exposed skin with just about any kind of skin cream and they all seem to work. Waterproof sunblock is my current favorite but I've also used Off (Eucalytus) and even ordinary moisturizer. I haven't yet tried a cooking oil which might be better for the environment and I bet it would work. Coconut oil is a favorite but they might just like it!

I'm too lazy on a hot day to rub stuff all over so I just do my feet and legs. The leeches don't seem to get inside a one piece bathing suit. I think they attack feet and legs because they are nearer the bottom of the lake but really don't know why my arms, shoulders, neck/head don't seem to interest them. I also hurry into deeper (about five feet) water and I think that helps. People who stand around in the shallows, especially near reeds, seem to attract some big ones.

Yesterday, my husband was fishing off a bridge in very shallow water while I swam and he got his hook caught so I bravely rescued it. Later, I had leeches (tiny ones) all over my rubber sandals but none on my feet. I was using waterproof sunblock and had already been in the water for about 20 minutes so the fact that the creme still worked was cheery.

I grew up in central Saskatchewan and leeches were just a fact of life. Any kid who wanted to go swimming just lived with the them. Now I am not so tolerant but I still love the water so I needed to find a solution when we bought a cottage in central BC.

Today, I tried something different. I put on a pair of tights and they worked perfectly, but since grey tights look seriously dorky, I'm going to try "nude" panty hose and no one will probably even notice. Not that there's anybody around except the occasional fisherman.

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